Some young, undocumented California adults will get healthcare through the taxpayer-funded Medi-Cal system under a deal worked out by state lawmakers on Sunday.
The agreement expands benefits for an estimated 90,000 undocumented residents aged 19 to 25 with low incomes. The cost is expected to be almost $100 million annually.
Immigrant rights advocates were disappointed that the budget will not cover additional undocumented immigrants, especially those over the age of 65.
“The exclusion of undocumented elders from the same healthcare their U.S. citizen neighbors are eligible for means beloved community members will suffer and die from treatable conditions,” said Cynthia Buiza of the California Immigrant Policy Center told the Los Angeles Time.
The budget deal also expands Covered California healthcare insurance subsidies for low-income Californians who are citizens to “fully cover” the cost of the plan.
The subsidies will be funded in part by a new state individual mandate that will require all Californians to purchase health insurance or pay a fine. It’s similar to the Affordable Care Act’s nationwide individual mandate, which was ended by Congress in 2017.
The budget includes new investment in early-childhood education but does not contain a proposed “water tax” to clean up unsafe water systems in disadvantaged communities.
“The budget adopted by the conference committee is balanced, creates historic reserves and expands budget resiliency,” said Gov. Gavin Newsom in a statement late Sunday. “It also invests in emergency preparedness and response, provides sustainable funding for safe drinking water, and includes important funding augmentations to address the cost crisis in our state — tax cuts for small businesses and working families, expanded health care subsidies, historic funding for our schools and funding to serve more students at UC and CSU.”
The deal must still be approved by both the state Assembly and Senate and be signed by Newsom. Lawmakers face a June 15 deadline to pass the budget, which will take effect in July.